Court of Appeal Rejects Challenge to LA’s Business Improvement Districts on Procedural Ground

At the end of June, in Hill RHF Housing Partners, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles, the Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s denial of a challenge to the City of Los Angeles’s June 2017 establishment of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID) and the San Pedro Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District (SPBID) (collectively, the LA BIDs), on the ground that the petitioners failed to exhaust administrative remedies – a jurisdictional prerequisite before seeking judicial review.  While the requirement for petitioners to exhaust administrative remedies is not new, Hills RHF Housing Partners, L.P. applied this well-established doctrine to a more nuanced set of laws applicable to the establishment of a business improvement district (BID). Continue Reading

Make No Mistake – Rent Control Laws Apply To Single-Family Homes

A recent California Appellate Court decision provided tenants with additional protections when it clarified that local rent control laws applied to a single-family home in which the landlord[1] rented rooms in the home to separate tenants despite the landlord’s belief that single-family homes were excepted from rent control laws. Specifically, in Owens v. City of Oakland Housing, Residential Rent and Relocation Board (“Owens”), Division Three of the First District of the California Court of Appeal clarified that the landlord’s argument that an exception to local rent control laws found in the Costa-Hawkins Housing Act (“Costa-Hawkins”) did not apply. Continue Reading

A Streamlined Process: Expedited Temporary Outdoor Dining Permits For NYC Restaurants

On March 22, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that closed all non-essential businesses in New York State (the “Order”).  In connection with the Order, New York City restaurants were forced to reduce their operations to pick-up and delivery only.  On June 8, 2020, New York City entered into Phase I of the New York State reopening plan.  It is anticipated that sometime between June 22, 2020 and the beginning of July, 2020, New York City will enter into Phase II.  During Phase II, restaurants will not be allowed to serve patrons indoors, but will be permitted to commence service to patrons outdoors.  In the past, restaurants have only been allowed to serve patrons outdoors after obtaining a sidewalk café permit pursuant to zoning regulations issued by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”). The outdoor café permit process is typically expensive, burdensome, time consuming and subject to zoning restrictions and community board approval.  However, a bill has been introduced at the New York City Council (the “Bill”) that will allow restaurants to apply for a Temporary Outdoor Space Dining Permit (a “Permit”) to serve patrons outdoors by utilizing sidewalks, pedestrian plazas, streets, parking lots and other public/private owned spaces. Continue Reading

Rethinking Sanitation: NYC Proposes Rule Affecting Large Residential Buildings

The New York City Department of Sanitation (“DSNY”) is proposing to amend its existing sanitation rules to require new and converted buildings classified as multiple dwelling buildings having 300 or more dwelling units to provide an enclosed “Waste Containerization System” that would support a garbage truck entering a building to pick up waste.  The purported goal of the proposed rule is to limit the large piles of garbage bags that are placed curbside on narrow sidewalks, accessible to rodents and other pests. Continue Reading

Judicial Council Amends Tolling Period for Statutes Limitations Impacted by COVID-19

On April 6, 2020, the California State Judicial Council adopted Emergency Rule 9 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[1]  As originally approved, the rule tolled the statute of limitations for all civil causes of action from April 6, 2020 until 90 days after the Governor lifts the current State of Emergency Declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Proposed Legislation Aims to Boost Affordable Housing on Land Owned by Religious Institutions and Nonprofit Hospitals

MAY 8, 2020 – UPDATE: The final version of the New Ordinance has been signed by Mayor Gracetti and takes effect May 12, 2020.

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California Senate Bill (“SB”) 899, introduced in March by Senator Scott Wiener and currently in the Senate Housing, Environmental Quality, and Governance and Finance Committees, would exempt eligible affordable housing projects and mixed use projects on property owned by religious institutions and nonprofit medical facilities from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Res. Code § 21000 et seq.) (“CEQA”) and provide for other permit streamlining.  Eligible entities include nonprofit hospitals, diagnostic or treatment centers, rehabilitation facilities, and nursing homes, as well as religious institutions.  As Senator Wiener noted, “religious and charitable institutions often have land to spare, and they should be able to use that land to build affordable housing and thus further their mission.  SB 899 ensures that affordable housing can be built and removes local zoning and approval obstacles in order to do so.”  These eligible organizations may partner with a qualified nonprofit developer or local public entity to construct the affordable housing developments. Continue Reading

Los Angeles City Council Passes Ordinance to Expand Temporary Tenant Protections

On a unanimous vote yesterday, May 6, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance (“New Ordinance“) amending rules in the Los Angeles Municipal Code that temporarily prohibit the eviction of residential and commercial tenants in the City of Los Angeles for failure to pay rent due to COVID-19.  Notably, the New Ordinance would extend the prohibition period on evictions.  The original period was previously limited to the local emergency period as declared by Mayor Eric Garcetti.  For residential tenants, the new prohibition period would extend to include the “Local Emergency Period” plus 12 months after the end of such period.  And for commercial tenants the new period prohibiting evictions would extend through the Local Emergency Period plus 3 months after the end of the emergency period.  Please note that the final version of the New Ordinance was not available with the Council Clerk file as of the time of publication given that the ordinance was the subject of several amendments as it was considered by Council during yesterday’s virtual hearing that went into the evening.  Also, these amendments will not take effect until Mayor Garcetti signs the New Ordinance, which is expected to be completed in short order. Continue Reading

New Bay Area COVID-19 Orders Ease Restrictions on Construction and Impose New Safety Protocols

In an earlier post, we covered the local Shelter-in-Place (“SIP”) orders, which severely restricted construction activities throughout the Bay Area.  This week the participating jurisdictions (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties) updated their SIP orders to ease restrictions on construction.  The changes took effect May 4 and will continue through May 31, unless further modified.
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Digital CEQA: New Executive Order Creates An Alternative Path For Complying With CEQA Notice, Posting And Public Review Requirements

On April 23, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-54-20 (EO) which, in part, addresses an outstanding question related to the California Environmental Quality Act’s (CEQA) “public review” requirements, which quickly became problematic upon closure of the locations typically used to house and post CEQA-related documents.  These closures, which impact government buildings like the County Recorder’s Office, are just one of the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant stay-at-home orders issued in an attempt to safeguard the public and flatten the curve.  Under this EO, while the time periods for public review remain the same, all requirements related to public filing, posting, notice, and public access to draft and final documents set forth in CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines, are exempted and suspended for the next 60 days (until June 22nd), including the Notice of Preparation, Notice of Comment Period, Notice of Intent to Adopt an EIR, Negative Declaration/Mitigated Negative Declaration, Notice of Determination and Notice of Exemption[1] so long as certain substitute procedures are followed. Continue Reading

Clean Water Act Permit Required for “Functional Equivalent” of Direct Discharge, Supreme Court Says

The Clean Water Act sometimes requires a permit for the indirect discharge of pollutants from a point source to navigable waters, but only when the discharge is the “functional equivalent” of a direct discharge, the Supreme Court held on April 23.  The Court’s 6-3 opinion in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund (No. 18-260) addresses a circuit split regarding whether indirect discharges to navigable water via groundwater are subject to the Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permitting program, but it has implications for other types of indirect discharges as well.  Although the Court identified some factors that may help determine when a discharge is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge—especially the time and distance between the discharge of a pollutant from a point source and the pollutant’s arrival in navigable waters—its opinion is likely to create substantial uncertainty for the regulated community as the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), litigants, and the courts attempt to apply the Court’s multi-factor test to a variety of factual scenarios. Continue Reading

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